SACRAMENTO -- Sacramento State picked up singles wins from Mark Keki, Liam Liles and Rudolfs Aksenoks to lead the Hornets to a 4-3 non-conference win over Air Force on Thursday afternoon on campus.
With the match tied at 3-3, it was Aksenoks, a true freshman, who provided the clincher with his 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 4 over Jonathan Mascagni. Making the win even more impressive is Aksenoks trailed, 5-2, in the second set, and 4-1 in the third set before completing the comeback in both frames.
The Hornets used five underclassmen in the singles lineup (four freshman, one sophomore) and were playing without team leader and No. 1 singles player Hermont Legaspi who is out with injury. However, the team did welcome back sophomore Carlos Rodriguez, who had missed the entire season with injury. It was Rodriguez who teamed with Aksenoks to win their doubles match at No. 3 by a 7-5 score, and provide the Hornets with a very important doubles point.
The Hornets' three singles winners - Keki, Liles and Aksenoks - are all freshmen, and Sacramento State continues to get better with one of the younger lineups in the country.
"This was a team win, and we dedicated this victory to Hermont who means so much to this program," Sacramento State head coach Kevin Kurtz said. "The guys really stepped up today. Rudolfs, in particular, made a number of adjustments and played very smart tennis to get back into his match. Liam played brilliantly from start to finish, Mark won his first match at No. 1, and getting Carlos back really helped."
The Hornets have now played to 4-3 outcomes in three straight, and five of their last seven matches.
The tandem of Keki/Liles at No. 1 (6-2) and Rodriguez/Aksenoks at No. 3 (7-5) won their doubles matches to earn the doubles point. Liles then won his singles match in straight sets at No. 3 (6-4, 6-3) to put the Hornets up, 2-0. After Air Force won at Nos. 5 and 6 to tie things at 2-2, it was Keki coming through at No. 1 (6-1, 4-6, 6-2) to give Sacramento State a 3-2 lead.
Keki, who had played at No. 2 all season, filled in at No. 1 for Legaspi and moved his winning streak to six straight singles victories.
Air Force (4-5) tied things at 3-3 before Aksenoks' clutch performance earned Sacramento State a win in the final leg of its 12-match homestand.
The Hornets (3-9) will play their first road match of the season next Wednesday at Nevada at 2 p.m.
Sacramento State 4, Air Force 3
1. Keki, Mark (SAC) def. Paul Hendrix (AF) 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
2. Justin Waldman (AF) def. Vizcarra, Michael (SAC) 6-2, 7-5
3. Liles, Liam (SAC) def. Robert Baylon (AF) 6-4, 6-3
4. Aksenoks, Rudolfs (SAC) def. Jonathan Mascagni (AF) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
5. Sean McKendree (AF) def. Silva, Jan (SAC) 6-4, 6-3
6. Nick Vroman (AF) def. Rodriguez, Carlos (SAC) 6-1, 6-2
1. Keki, Mark/Liles, Liam (SAC) def. Jamie Bautista/Paul Hendrix (AF) 6-2
2. Jordan Azuma/Robert Baylon (AF) def. Silva, Jan/Vizcarra, Michael (SAC) 6-3
3. Rodriguez, Carlos/Aksenoks, Rudolfs (SAC) def. Jonathan Mascagni/Sean McKendree (AF) 7-5
Air Force 4-5
Sacramento State 3-9
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,6,5,1,2,4)
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